Monday, April 29, 2013

Trash Pick Up

The more I have thought about the modification of fees for trash pickup floated at the last city council meeting, the more I find myself favoring the idea.  Currently, the city assesses residents the same fee whether they put out one bag of trash or a dozen. This hardly induces anyone to minimize the amount of trash they put out since there is no penalty suffered by the household for additional refuse.  A low waste household costs the city much less than a high waste household but the low waste household pays the same as the high waste household.

Compare this to your water or electric bill, wherein the more water or power your consume, the higher your bill.  Unfortunately, we don't have any way to easily measure trash flows as we do water or power, so another method would have to be found.  Charging by the bag, like we do with landscape waste, sounds like a good idea, but does the city charge the same for a 33 gallon bag as it would for a 55 gallon bag, or charge one price per bag, with restrictions on weight, as it does with landscape waste?  Your thoughts?


  1. I think volume is the natural unit for trash, with an upper limit on reasonable weight. I also think volume by can, rather than bag would be easier to regulate. Maybe if you put out a very small can (13 gallon- is that the size of the standard kitchen trash can?) you could get a discount on the current price. Then one can in the range of 20-30 gallon has the normal price, and then a steep increase for additional trash cans. But how do you monitor the amount -- do the trash collectors note everyone's volume?

  2. Maybe do what the city does with landscape waste collection. Set a standard bag size, such as 55 gallons, and every household gets to set out 2 for free, then you have to put a collection sticker on each additional bag.

    1. Quincy, IL has been using the garbage sticker program for about 20 years. I think the stickers now run about 75cents each. Anecdotely, the program has seemed to improve community recycling. Here's the language from their "Waste Watchers Handbook":

      In order for garbage to be collected, it must bear the proper
      number of “ Garbage Stickers. ” A small garbage bag ( u p to
      13 gallons ) requires on ( 1 ) sticker, a large bag ( over 16
      gallons ) requires two ( 2 ) stickers. The bags must not weigh
      more than 40 lbs. each. “ G arbage Stickers ” are available for
      purchase at most grocery stores, discount/department stores,
      gas station/convenience stops, City Hall, and Central Services.

  3. I always found the yard waste stickers to be a pain in the a**. Do they still require clear plastic bags? If you had a big yard, with lots of trees, you just heaped everything at the curb and paid for the vacuum truck to come get it.

    That being said, I think I would be in favor of a fee per can or bag on trash. Sounds good.

    As long as you are headed down this road, how about a $.10 deposit on bottles and cans? Fee for take out fast food, so the city will clean up the trash thrown out of cars in front of my building?

  4. Sustainability commission is working on a proposed ban on styrofoam containers within city limits. Not sure if it will ever get to council, though.